If you’re a radiology practice owner, you know that marketing can be uncomfortable territory for most radiologists. After all, marketing and sales are often associated with pushy, over-the-top tactics that don’t really seem to fit the personality of medical professionals.
Marketing doesn’t need to be a dirty word in radiology.
Yet it so often is. I’ve now worked with quite a few radiologists and diagnostic imaging entrepreneurs. And I’ve seen many squirm at the thought of marketing their products or services – even as they wonder how to attract new patients or clients and grow their business.
Marketers can seem like swindlers to some, pulling tricks to get you to buy things you don't really need (or do you?). Certainly, that is a totally different mindset from health care, in which many dedicated professionals work hard to improve the lives of their patients.
But think about it this way: if you’re providing diagnostic imaging services or have developed a new healthcare product, your goal is presumably to help people get a precise diagnosis and enjoy good health. For you to do that, referring physicians and patients have to know you’re there.
They have to know what problems you can solve with your imaging equipment and specialized team of radiologists and technicians and see how you stand out. They have to feel a connection with you.
Marketing creates all that. And when it’s done in the right way, it isn’t slick or manipulative – because that’s not you. Instead, it’s a genuine conversation that builds a mutually beneficial relationship between you, your referring physicians, and your patients.
So, if marketing feels icky to you, please keep reading.
The Hidden Costs Of Doing Nothing
The reality is that there are costs to doing nothing. If your website is outdated and not mobile-friendly, patients will search for your competitor and find them first.
If you don't maintain an active social media presence, you're missing out on major opportunities to establish relationships with new patients.
And if you don't have any credibility as indicated by past patient reviews, guess who suffers the consequences? You guessed it: Patients become less likely to visit because they've lost trust in your company. But marketing isn't about covering all the digital channels like a consumer brand.
It's about leveraging each one strategically so that they work together to provide the best possible experience for patients.
Authentic and Ethical Radiology Marketing
Marketing is not just for car dealerships or tech startups. Independent radiology centers have to market themselves and their practice, too. Marketing can be authentic, ethical and data-driven, building bridges between a business and its clientele and delivering a strong return on investment that helps grow the number of patients.
We’ve all seen examples of unethical healthcare marketing. Fear-based advertising misleads customers, preys on their vulnerabilities and creates unrealistic expectations of a successful outcome. It’s unworthy of healthcare professionals or healthcare businesses.
When the messages you share about your business feel genuine, you begin to feel more comfortable with marketing because it feels more authentic.
Ways To Market Your Practice
According to Google, 86% of potential patients will search a clinic online before an appointment, even if they were referred by a physician or friend.
The first chance to establish trust and a positive first impression with your patients and referring physicians is ONLINE. Your clinic will be visible online to potential patients and referring physicians in 2 ways:
- Brand searches - related to the name of your diagnostic imaging center
- Generic searches - keywords related to the types of imaging services you offer: “CBCT scan near me”, “mammography San Diego”, “brain MRI scan”, “diagnostic imaging center Miami”
Your online reputation determined by the patient reviews will stand out: the number of stars, the number of reviews, date of most recent review, how you respond to reviews - are all important factors that will weigh in to create your first impression.
Marketing Builds Bridges Between You and Your Patients
In marketing, the majority of the time is spent building bridges between your practice and your patients, making sure they know, like and trust your imaging center:
- Ranking in top 3 positions (ideally #1) for the most searched terms related to your diagnostic imaging services in your area
- Having hundreds of positive reviews and a score of min 4.7
- Ranking in top positions in Google Maps
- Converting visitors that land on your fast loading, mobile optimized, conversion-driven website
- Addressing FAQ and concerns and educating anxious patients about radiation levels and technology
- Reducing no-show rates by sending appointment reminders
The more you focus on these important tasks, the easier it will be to gain and keep loyal patients.
Data-driven Radiology Marketing
The best way to tell if a program is working is through measurement. You may have heard that businesses need to get really good at measurement or risk being disrupted by those who do, and it’s true. As any marketing professional knows, there is no such thing as an overnight success.
The more successful you want to be, the more work you need to put into it. So when it comes to marketing, the only way to get new patients is by using Google Analytics and your KPIs to measure what has been working for you. You also need a number of measures: number of calls, conversion rate, website visits, and number of patients. These numbers will tell you where your practice needs improvement so that you can prioritize marketing initiatives accordingly.
Our KPI dashboard is tailored to each client and the updates are automated through direct connections with the data sources. Each month reviewing the digital marketing KPIs gives us a chance to see what's working and to adjust the course when needed.
Time To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?
When it comes to marketing, we need to be proactive. Sitting back and hoping our patients will just find you will not work. You have to get out there and make sure people know that you exist.
The trend of healthcare moving online will continue, and diagnostic imaging practices need to be ready. This doesn’t just mean setting up a website (although, it’s important to do that). But if you want your practice’s digital presence to work well together with your entire practice, there are some things you can do now.
You should audit at least 3 of your main competitors to see what you’re up against and where you could find an edge.
Which digital channels are being used and which have the highest engagement. Are there channels where your competitors are active and benefiting from lots of engagement that you’re not leveraging?
How well are you (and your competitors) ranking?
Marketing Delivers A Strong Return On Investment
Research suggests that investing 10% of your budget in marketing is going to yield you at least 20% more patients. Marketing can also save money by attracting new patients who require less care, as they found all the information they need online or via SMS.
A well-designed marketing and content strategy will help grow your business, save money, and provide better patient care.